Your one-stop guide to the final month of Rhode Island’s legislative session
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Happy Monday and welcome to the first edition of Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Biggest Little. I’m Dan McGowan and I say “Billions” is officially one of the top five TV shows of all time. Send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.
It’s the first Monday in June, so you know Rhode Island lawmakers are counting down the days until they can trade long nights at the State House for lazy afternoons on the beach in Narragansett.
But with the clock ticking on the legislative session, leaders in the House and Senate say there’s still plenty of unfinished business to handle before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.
Here’s a fun-sized roundup of the key issues to watch.
House leaders are eyeing the second week of June to drop a revised budget from the $9.9 billion plan Governor Raimondo sent them in January, but they remain noncommittal when it comes to her high-profile plans to expand the state’s free college program to Rhode Island College and implement universal pre-kindergarten.
One thing Speaker Mattiello has already guaranteed is that his version of the car tax phase out – about to enter year three – will be included in the final budget. As for his other top priorities, Mattiello told Rhode Map he’s committed to passing the education reform package introduced last month, as well as legislation designed to address the opioid crisis.
In the other chamber, Senate President Ruggerio said the education and opioid bills are a go, but he also wants to see several economic development bills win passage, including one to incentivize growth in the solar industry. It’s unclear if his proposal to strip Providence of its zoning power on the former I-195 land still has legs.
Of course, other hot-button topics – like the abortion rights bill – remain unresolved, although it appears Senate leaders are trying to work a compromise on that front. We’ll keep updating you as the session winds down.
WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY
Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? Email us at RInews@globe.com.
The fallout from Bishop Tobin’s weekend tweet about Pride Month will likely continue all week. To catch up, don’t miss Ed Fitzpatrick and Amanda Milkovits’ excellent overview on the controversy. And here’s our deeper look at how the bishop embraces being the center of attention.
This could be a BIG story on Aquidneck Island. Newport’s school superintendent is asking Middletown officials if they would consider forming a “unified school district” between the two communities. There’s no timeline at this point, but the Middletown Town Council will discuss the concept at a meeting this evening.
Happening tonight at the RISD Museum Theater: the premiere of “Providence Lost,” a short film about evictions and Rhode Island’s housing crisis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and Mayor Elorza is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion following the movie.
The Elorza administration is releasing a report today that shows four city school buildings have reduced energy consumption by 20 percent, part of a broader goal to make Providence carbon neutral by 2050.
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Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, email us at RInews@globe.com.
Don’t miss my deep dive on Providence’s struggling schools.
City Hall scoop: Brian Hull, Providence’s director of economic opportunity, abruptly resigned on Friday. You might remember that Hull was placed on leave earlier this year after the City Council blocked a questionable building lease deal he signed before putting it out to bid, but he returned to work in February. A spokesperson for the city confirmed to Rhode Map the US Department of Labor is now auditing Hull’s former department.
Keep an eye on Senator V. Susan Sosnowski’s bill to strip the Council on Postsecondary Education of most of its control over the University of Rhode Island and establish a 17-member board of trustees instead.
For those living on the East Side of Providence, a settlement has been reached in a long-running legal dispute over the future of the Beresford-Nicholson estate at 288 Blackstone Boulevard. The new owner wanted to divide the property into 10 lots to build single-family homes, but opponents successfully lobbied to reduce the number of lots to eight.
On the local political shows over the weekend, Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said she’s hopeful a decision will be made on Partners HealthCare’s attempt to buy Care New England by the end of the year (WJAR)… Sid Wordell from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association said law enforcement agencies across the state are struggling to recruit new officers (WPRI).
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